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Adult Book Lists: Award Winning Nonfiction 2016

[Printable book list]

Margo Jefferson / 305.8960733 JEFFERSO
National Book Critics Circle Award
Negroland: a Memoir
Born in 1947 in upper-crust black Chicago--her father was for years head of pediatrics at Provident, at the time the nation's oldest black hospital; her mother was a socialite--Margo Jefferson has spent most of her life among (call them what you will) the colored aristocracy, the colored elite, the blue-vein society. Since the nineteenth century they have stood apart, these inhabitants of Negroland, "a small region of Negro America where residents were sheltered by a certain amount of privilege and plenty." Reckoning with the strictures and demands of Negroland at crucial historical moments--the civil rights movement, the dawn of feminism, the fallacy of post-racial America--Jefferson brilliantly charts the twists and turns of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions.
(Also available in ebook)

Charlotte Gordon / 828.609 GORDON
National Book Critics Circle Award
Romantic Outlaws: the Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollenstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) and her daughter Mary Shelley (1797-1851) have each been the subject of numerous biographies yet no author has ever examined their lives in tandem. Perhaps this is because these two amazing women never knew each other--Wollstonecraft died of infection at the age of 38, a week after giving birth to her daughter. Nevertheless their lives were closely intertwined, their choices, dreams and tragedies so eerily similar, it seems impossible to consider one without the other: both became famous writers; both fell in love with brilliant but impossible authors; both were single mothers and had children out of wedlock (a shocking and self-destructive act in their day); both broke out of the rigid conventions of their era and lived in exile; and both played important roles in the Romantic era during which they lived. The lives of both Marys were nothing less than extraordinary.

Marion Nestle / 663.62 NESTLE
James Beard Foundation Award
Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning)
Little more than flavored sugar-water, sodas cost practically nothing to produce or buy, yet they have turned their makers into multibillion-dollar corporations with global recognition. Even though they are known to contribute to poor dental hygiene, higher calorie intake, obesity, and type-2 diabetes, nearly two trillion 12-ounce servings are sold each year. How is this possible?

Ibram X. Kendi / 305.800973 KENDI
National Book Award
Stamped from the Beginning: the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the lives of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists. Kendi shows how and why some of our leading proslavery and pro-civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America. As Kendi provocatively illustrates, racist thinking did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Racist ideas were created and popularized in an effort to defend deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and to rationalize the nation's racial inequities in everything from wealth to health.

Allen Kurzweil / B KURZWEIL
Edgar Award
Whipping Boy: the Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully
Allen Kurzweil's stranger-than-fiction "investigative memoir" details his 40-year-search for his boarding school bully who tied him up at the age of twelve and whipped him to the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar, and who went on to lead a mad-cap life of international crime and financial fraud.

William Finnegan / 797.32092 FINNEGAN
Pulitzer Prize
Barbarian Days: a Surfing Life
Surfing looks like a sport, but that's only to outsiders. To initiates, it is something else entirely: a beautiful addiction, a morally dangerous pastime, a way of life. Raised in California and Hawaii, Finnegan started surfing as a child. He has chased waves all over the world, wandering for years through the South Pacific, Australia, Asia, and Africa. He was an excessively adventurous young man who became a distinguished writer and war reporter. This book is an old-school adventure, and intellectual autobiog-raphy, and an exploration of the gradual mastering of an exacting, little-understood art.
(Also available in ebook)

Joby Warrick / 956.91042 WARRICK
Pulitzer Prize
Black Flags: the Rise of ISIS
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Joby Warrick, traces how the strain of militant Islam behind ISIS first arose in a remote Jordanian prison, then spread with the unwitting aid of two American presidents. When the government of Jordan granted amnesty to a group of political prisoners in 1999, it little realized that among them was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist mastermind and soon the architect of an Islamist movement bent on dominating the Middle East. Warrick shows how the zeal of this one man and the strategic mistakes of Presidents Bush and Obama led to the banner of ISIS being raised over huge swaths of Syria and Iraq.
(Also available in ebook)

T. J. Stiles / 973.82092 STILES
Pulitzer Prize
Custer's Trials: a Life of the Frontier of a New America
In this biography, Stiles paints a portrait both deeply personal and sweeping in scope, proving how much of Custer's legacy has been ignored. He demolishes Custer's historical caricature, revealing a volatile, contradictory, intense person, capable yet insecure, intelligent yet bigoted, passionate yet self-destructive, a romantic individualist at odds with the institution of the military. In the Civil War, the West, and many areas overlooked in previous biographies, Custer helped to create modern America, but he could never adapt to it. This biography captures the larger story of the changing nation in Custer's tumultuous marriage to his highly educated wife, Libbie, their complicated relationship with Eliza Brown, the forceful black woman who ran their household, as well as his battles and expeditions.

Sam Quinones / 362.2930973 QUINONES
National Book Critics Circle Award
Dreamland: the Story of America's Opiate Epidemic
Sam Quinones chronicles how, over the past 15 years, enterprising sugar cane farmers in a small county on the west coast of Mexico created a unique distribution system that brought black tar heroin-- the cheapest, most addictive form of the opiate, 2 to 3 times purer than its white powder cousin-- to the veins of people across the United States.

Dean Jobb / 364.163092 JOBB
National Book Critics Circle Award
Empire of Deception: the Incredible Story of a Master Swindler Who Seduced a City and Captivated the Nation
At the dawn of the Roaring Twenties, Leo Koretz was a smooth-talking, charismatic lawyer who enticed hundreds of people to invest as much as $30 million (upwards of $400 million today) in phantom timberland and nonexistent oil wells in Panama. After what might have been the longest fraud in history, Koretz's enterprise collapsed in 1923 and he vanished. Following an international manhunt that lasted almost a year, Koretz was found living a life of luxury in Nova Scotia, Canada. After his trial, he died in mysterious circumstances in a prison in Chicago.

Val McDermid / 363.252 MCDERMID
Anthony Award
Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime
In the course of researching her bestselling novels McDermid has become familiar with every branch of forensics, and now she uncovers the history of this science, real-world murders and the people who must solve them. The dead talk to the right listener. They can tell us all about themselves: where they came from, how they lived, how they died, and, of course, who killed them. Forensic scientists can unlock the mysteries of the past and help serve justice using the messages left by a corpse, a crime scene, or the faintest of human traces. Forensics draws on interviews with some of these top-level professionals, ground-breaking research, and McDermid's own original interviews and firsthand experience on scene with top forensic scientists.
(Also available in ebook)

Martin Edwards / 823.087209 EDWARDS
Agatha Award, Edgar Award, Macavity Award
The Golden Age of Murder: the Mystery of the Writers Who Invented the Modern Detective Story
In 1930 a group of British mystery writers formed The Detection Club. These writers, including Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, helped each other with their writing, and agreed in their code of ethics to give the reader a fair chance at guessing the guilty party. Fascinated by real life crimes, these authors cracked unsolved cases and threw down challenges to Scotland Yard, using their fiction to take revenge on people who hurt them, to conduct covert relationships, and even as an outlet for homicidal fantasy. Martin Edwards, crime novelist and Detection Club archivist, rewrites the story of crime fiction with unique authority, transforming our understanding of detective stories, and the brilliant but tormented men and women who wrote them.

Sally Mann / 770.92 MANN
Andrew Carnegie Medal
Hold Still: a Memoir with Photographs
This is a revealing and beautifully written memoir and family history from acclaimed photographer Sally Mann. Mann's preoccupation with family, race, mortality, and the storied landscape of the American South are found written into the family history that precedes her. Sorting through boxes of family papers and yellowed photographs she finds more than she bargained for: "deceit and scandal, alcohol, domestic abuse, car crashes, bogeymen, clandestine affairs, dearly loved and disputed family land . . . racial complications, vast sums of money made and lost, the return of the prodigal son, and maybe even bloody murder." Mann has crafted a totally original form of personal history using lyrical prose and startlingly revealing photographs.
(Also available in ebook)

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